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Project

Stylish Denim Crafts

Introduction


Inspired by the comfort of denim clothing, you can transform the sturdy fabric in several ways. Read our basic denim how-to tips below. Then try all of our craft ideas on the following pages.

Denim How-Tos

1. Ripping Denim Strips

By tearing denim rather than cutting it, you create a fringe that's wonderful to work with. Use this technique for all the projects shown here. Place denim on a flat surface. Measure to desired width, cut a 1/2-inch slit in the cloth, and rip in one fast motion. Tear jeans vertically to avoid seams.

2. Adorning Pillows

Cut denim to make a 22-by-12-inch knife-edge pillow cover. Using denim (or other fabric, like that cut from a dress shirt), tear five to nine 1 1/4-by-14-inch strips. With tailor's chalk, mark where you want to attach the strips. For a gathered design, as shown, sew down the center of each strip with a denim needle, using an awl to push the fabric toward the machine in pleats. For flat strips, sew two rows of stitches down the sides of each, with a 1/8-inch seam allowance.

3. Fringe Rug

Cut a 30-by-54-inch piece of burlap. Tear about 200 strips from jeans (you'll need about 12 pairs); make each 1 1/4 inches wide and the length of a pant leg. Align first strip 1 inch from burlap's edge; with the zipper foot attachment on a sewing machine and a denim needle, stitch down center. Snip any remainder from the end, and use it to start the next row. Sew strips 1/8 inch apart, until 1 inch of burlap remains. Fold burlap edges under, and hand-stitch.

4. Floral Brooches

Rip a denim strip (1 1/2 inches wide and the length of a pair of jeans). Beginning 1/8 inch from edge, sew two rows of running stitches 1/8 inch apart. Pull on the ends of the threads to gather. (On a sewing machine, use a denim needle and a wide stitch length; tug on the two bobbin threads.) Hand-sew gathered edge in a spiral shape as shown. Attach a safety pin to the back.

Denim Pillows

Cut denim to make a 22-by-12-inch knife-edge pillow cover. Using denim (or other fabric, such as that cut from a dress shirt), tear five to nine 1 1/4-by-14-inch strips. With tailor's chalk, mark where you want to attach the strips. For a gathered design, as shown, sew down the center of each strip with a denim needle, using an awl to push the fabric toward the machine in pleats. For flat strips, sew two rows of stitches down the sides of each, with a 1/8-inch seam allowance.

Fringe Rug

This fluffy rug, so welcoming to bare feet, is made from hundreds of strips of denim. The frayed edges in shades of blue, gray, and white create subtle modulations in color.

Denim Tote with Floral Brooches

There's more than one way to wear a pair of jeans. With a length of denim, the perfect tote bag is a few stitches away.

Choose or cut a piece of denim half the width of the finished bag and 1 inch longer. (The depth of the bag is half the width of the fabric.)

Fold the fabric in half with the right sides together so the selvages meet. Turn the fabric so the selvage edges become the top of the bag. Sew along the right and left sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Cut two lengths of denim or other sturdy fabric for the handles; they can be as short or long as you like. Pin the handles in place, then sew them on the inside of the bag. Use thread to match the fabric. Turn the bag right side out. Embellish the tote with easy denim floral brooches.

Floral Brooches

Rip a denim strip (1 1/2 inches wide and the length of a pair of jeans). Beginning 1/8 inch from edge, sew two rows of running stitches 1/8 inch apart. Pull on the ends of the threads to gather. (On a sewing machine, use a denim needle and a wide stitch length; tug on the two bobbin threads.) Hand-sew the gathered edge in a spiral shape as shown. Attach a safety pin to the back.

Denim Seat Cover

To make this stool cover, cut a circle from the inseam of a pair of jeans, then sew on a strip taken from the other leg to create a skirt.

Eye-Catching Quilt

To make the quilt, cut rectangles from gently worn jeans, ticking, and dish towels. After the pieces are sewn together, line the quilt with cotton batting and finish with a flannel backing.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, Volume 143 October 2005

Reviews (30)

  • georginanna 26 Feb, 2010

    thank-you jeanneam60.....i would never have known to do the print thing

  • jeanniem60 26 Oct, 2008

    click on the print tap at the top of page, it will take you to all the items that you can do with the denim material. it will also give you information on the fringe rug.

  • jeanniem60 26 Oct, 2008

    click on the print tap at the top of page, it will take you to all the items that you can do with the denim material. it will also give you information on the fringe rug.

  • jeanniem60 26 Oct, 2008

    click on the print tap at the top of page, it will take you to all the items that you can do with the denim material. it will also give you information on the fringe rug.

  • kathylee48 27 Sep, 2008

    Where are the instructions for the fringe rug?

  • live2create 25 Sep, 2008

    Click on page 4 at bottom of instructions. The denim tote is on that page. The others are on the other pages. I'm going to try this one.

  • angelcloud26 25 Sep, 2008

    Were there measurements for the tote bag? I couldn't find any. Thanks in advance for your help.

  • angelcloud26 25 Sep, 2008

    Were there measurements for the tote bag? I couldn't find any. Thanks in advance for your help.

  • grannyj3 24 Sep, 2008

    I am able to use the zoom option on my tool bar, under "view", but it requires 3-4 repeats to get it large enough to make out the details. Sometimes it is worth the trouble.

  • hallycat 24 Sep, 2008

    You wont be able to see the frecycle messages until you join. the way it works is you join the one in your city. and as an example I needed a walker I am a senior citizien and needed a walker to get around and cant afford on. i put on freecycle that i needed one. and emailed it to them soon within one day someone answered the freecycle post and said they had one and she gave me her address so i could go pick it up.It is for all 50 states. I have given back also by giving clothes and misc items others need. If want to get rid of them you list them on freecycle and someone will want them. they dont have to come to your house you can set them on the street or meet in a walmart parking lot. your choice. IIT IS A GOOD THING.

  • ylekiot 24 Sep, 2008

    I agree with Sissy, it's been difficult for me to see lots of images on the site. I can enlarge text but not pictures. (Sissy you might have said it a little more nicely, but I know you meant well.)
    This is a great idea, though. I use denim for quilts too; it's a great way to create a lasting memory. Working on getting my friend's late husband's jeans away from her so I can make her a keepsake quilt from those. I could sure use the leftovers for a tote like this! Thanks!

  • beverson 24 Sep, 2008

    Freecycle is fantastic! It is made up of local groups that exchange information via a yahoo group about things people no longer want and want to give to others. You can post offers and wanteds to your local group and you nearly always find replies. Go to the main freecycle.org website and follow the links to find a local group. Different groups have slightly varying rules about posting, but #1 is -- it's always free.

  • Meezers 24 Sep, 2008

    Pitbull1369 I went to look at freecycle because I have never heard of it. I can't see nay posts and I don't understand how it works? I do not want to sing up for something I can't see first. I don't get it.

  • Sissy 24 Sep, 2008

    I'm disappointed that you don't have the option of enlarging your photos, as almost every other website I visit does! Your pictures are even smaller than the norm, making it impossible for me to detect details. PLEASE give us that option: enlarging, along with a zoom option for close-ups of each area. (See Old Navy--their's is wonderful!) You're Martha Stewart---you should be BETTER than the rest!! Thank you

  • juniperpearle 25 Aug, 2008

    Try again - been collecting all colors/prints/styles of denim for yrs

  • juniperpearle 24 Aug, 2008

    I have been collecting

  • kellimaier 30 Jun, 2008

    It is nearly impossible to see the fringed rug...better photos would be nice.

  • Lisanishicouture 21 Jun, 2008

    Excellent article and idea...fits right in with re-cycling of clothes to avoid waste.
    I am a fashion designer and am applying this concept to a vest and top hat for a fashion show. Might try Paverpol on the hat, if it won't stand on it's own.
    Appreciate the idea. Thanks !!!

  • deannyork 28 Mar, 2008

    I made myself a denim quilt years ago. I used cheap denim by the yard for the backing. I keep the quilt in my car for spontaneous picnics. Grass does not stick to denim, so it's an easy pick up and go.

  • piyu 22 Feb, 2008

    I was wondering what to do of the old jeans.. this is a great idea and looks so good.

  • tholgate 15 Feb, 2008

    I am crazy about the weight of a quilt made of denim, menswear wools and chocolate brown velvet pieces. Back with velvet instead of flannel and embroider some details for a custom heirloom quality quilt!

  • TheBeacher 3 Feb, 2008

    I love the look of these items, I'm attempting my first large project...I quilted a small pillow. Do you think this quilt might be too big to start this soon? I need more detailed description to do this one tho. I'm just eager I guess....help! Thanks

  • pittbull1369 25 Jan, 2008

    Go to your local freecycle.org and ask for old blue jeans

  • animallover4ever 31 Dec, 2007

    this is a great idea for using old and torn jeans. thank you for putting this in our collection. Know i can start to use the jeans that i have, on a fun project. That would make great gifts. thanks

  • roniediane 26 Dec, 2007

    i make quitls and this idea is wonderful .. so guess what a few of my friends will get next year for the holidays..which means ..lots of garage sales!!!! This way i can find lots of items for the quilts ..

  • roniediane 26 Dec, 2007

    i make quitls and this idea is wonderful .. so guess what a few of my friends will get next year for the holidays..which means ..lots of garage sales!!!! This way i can find lots of items for the quilts ..

  • opat 18 Dec, 2007

    I used old denim jeans to make seats for the concrete benches in camp grounds. I cut and sew them patch work style and sew and turn them like you would a pillow case. To finish them I use bright red yarn to tie them to hold the batting in place. If you want to you can use the seams to make ties so they will stay in place. A great way to use up old jeans.

  • etches 17 Nov, 2007

    A GIRL I work with makes quilts out of denim and adds labels she has collected from discarted clothes and the jeans for added interest. It's neat!!

  • netasaxton 15 Nov, 2007

    I have been collecting used jeans for about 1 year to make a quilt and even plan on leaving the back pockets on the patches to add to the uniqueness of the quilt that I am making. Thank-you for having this idea in your collection.

  • MaryGale 14 Nov, 2007

    This quilt would be super quick and easy. I know it would be a hit with the teenagers and very snuggly with the flannel backing. I think the best batting would be the "Warm and Natural" 100% cotton. The rectangle shapes would be easy to quilt using the "stitch in the ditch" method. You simply stitch between the seams of each piece, this also makes a nice pattern on the back.